On Sunday, May 4, hundreds from the greater Fairfield area will gather for March for Babies at Jennings Beach to benefit the March of Dimes. Leading the festivities will be the event's 2014 Ambassadors, Kevin and Brooke Lalumiere of Fairfield, along with their sons, six-year old Grayson and three-year old Holden. They will share the boys' journeys through prematurity, and thank walkers for their commitment to the March of Dimes mission to give all babies a healthy start.
In 2006, Brooke had been experiencing a healthy pregnancy when at 20 weeks, she suffered the loss of their unborn son. A year later, pregnant with Grayson, he arrived eight weeks too soon. He spent 23 days in neonatal intensive care (NICU) before coming home with Kevin and Brooke.
Three and a half years later, the family was excitedly anticipating the arrival of their next baby, when Holden was born 16 weeks too soon (just 24 weeks gestation). He weighed just 1 pound 10 ounces, with no immune system, no ability to produce new blood cells, a serious brain
hemorrhage. His eyes were fused shut. To help mature his tiny lungs, he received surfactant, a therapy developed with help from March of Dimes grantees. He ultimately spent 12 weeks in the NICU at Bridgeport Hospital and six weeks in the NICU at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital for additional surgery and treatments (123 days total in NICU).
"His journey has been a true roller coaster! We met many devastating turns during Holden's 18 week hospital stay, yet clung to tiny celebrations of every ounce gained, every breath, every feeding," said Brooke. "I had such respect for his efforts and his fight. But many days I felt completely numb, paralyzed by fear of the unknown."
Today Holden is a thriving toddler, running at full speed to keep up with his brother at the playground. Holden receives physical therapy and speech therapy weekly and is catching up to full term babies at a remarkable pace. "Anything that he can do to keep up with Grayson! He loves Legos, play dough, building towers and making snacks," said Brooke.
March for Babies participants can meet the family and hear their story at Jennings Beach in Fairfield on Sunday, May 4. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with the walk kicking off at 11 a.m. To register visit marchforbabies.org/event/fairfield or marchofdimes.com/ct.
"We know that by sharing our story, we are bringing attention to some saddening statistics. One baby out of 10 in Connecticut is born too soon. Our hope is that by sharing our story we will spread awareness through Fairfield County," said Brooke. "There is a need to help the community fully understand how crucial it is for babies to have a full 40 weeks to develop. Every baby deserves a chance at a full and healthy life!"
Fairfield March for Babies is sponsored locally by News12 Connecticut, Lamar Outdoor, kidtivity.com, Out and About Kids Fairfield County, and is supported by statewide sponsors, NBC Connecticut and Comcast. March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Macy's, Famous Footwear, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Mission Pharmacal, and United Airlines.
For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs. Find out how you can help raise funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects by walking in March for Babies at marchforbabies.org. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.